Before we get involved with the gimmee of Christmas, it's time to stop and acknowledge that even in a difficult time, we have much to be grateful for. Too often we tend to get caught up in those things we need or want and fail to express gratitude for those things we already have.
There are a lot of things wrong with our country and some of our country's leaders, but rather than dwelling on faults and shortcomings, we should be grateful for this land which is rich in beauty, resources, and a form of government that allows us to express our disappointments, receive as much education as we are willing to work for, worship as we see fit, and where each person has individual worth. In recognizing the blessings and privileges the free world enjoys, we should acknowledge the God who gave these blessings to us and show our gratitude by respecting Him, by caring for that which we have, and by protecting the God-given right to liberty.
Abraham Lincoln expressed it well when he said, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in number, wealth, and power as no other Nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-suffricient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us.
"It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our . . . sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."
Most Americans, Western Europeans, and many people in other parts of the world if asked what they are grateful for will respond with the large scale items such as life, family, friends, food, shelter, country, freedom, faith in God, and overlook the many small blessings in their lives. We should be grateful for these things and we should express our gratitude to God, but there are many smaller blessings which we tend to think we earned or have a right to without ever acknowledging God's hand in these things or even the hands and minds of our fellow human beings who brought these small blessings into our lives. James E. Faust said, "One of the evils of our time is taking for granted so many of the things we enjoy."
That brings me to the question I wish to ask for the second half of November contest. Think about the things you enjoy, both the large and small. Have you ever stopped to express gratitude for those things? Sometimes just pausing to look around your immediate surroundings, we can discover a surprising number of things for which to be thankful. I am thankful for the big things I mentioned earlier, but I have a long list of small blessings I'm glad are part of my life. On my list of things I am thankful for is my computer instead of using a pen or typewriter as I did early in my career, I'm grateful for a plentiful supply of books, I deeply appreciate indoor plumbing, pencils with erasers, breathmints, a telephone at my fingertips that enables me to stay in touch with loved ones, central heating, good drinking water, a full pantry, Oreos, a dependable car, the birds who visit our backyard, the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, my editor, eyeglasses, and so many other things great and small. Now it's your turn to look around you and name some of the large and small things you are grateful for.
Your prize? The winner can send me a wish list of five or more LDS novels he or she would like and I'll send you one of them or come as close as possible to matching one of your selections.